Students Want to Be Engaged Outside the Classroom Too – Athanassia Iosifidou

Teachers have a huge impact on students in the classroom. Find out why what happens outside the classroom matters too.

Educators are not only concerned with the academic progress of students but also other facets of their learning journey such as well-being and social acceptance, as teachers play a major role in students’ lives.

One of the main concerns of leaders, as children begin formal education at a young age, is to engage with children and their families from the beginning. However, the engagement of members of society within communities does not stop at the end of schooling.

Even after becoming adults, the engagement of students regardless of their age is vital to the smooth running of communities. ESL is the study of English as a second language, usually in a country where it is the native language.

The English language sector has significantly grown as a destination for overseas students wanting to improve their English language skills.

The four biggest receivers of ESL students ranked in popularity are the UK, the USA, Canada, and Australia.

As the importance of community involvement throughout education becomes more evident, the engagement of ESL students within their new communities must be incorporated into the experiences provided by the schools, in order to provide a more complete student experience.

As schools are the first point of contact for ESL students, they can be a significant stepping stone on creating settings for belonging. As English plays such a significant role on the integration of the students within their new community, the providers of ESL courses must be prepared to respond to the need for wider student engagement outside the classroom and the school setting.


This highlights the importance of the ELICOS schools providing opportunities for students to become engaged within the wider community, as teaching them English is simply not enough. There is a need for schools to provide more than a language teaching service, in order to contribute significantly to a higher level of well-being among its students, and play a role in positive outcomes for the whole community.

Some schools are indeed interested in providing opportunities to their students to be socially active while they are studying English. They do this through creating a social activities calendar and hosting many events ranging from sports competitions to dance nights.

Student Engagement in and Out of ESL Classroom

However, one issue has been the disconnection between what the schools think the students want and what the students actually want. In one school, this was realised due to low numbers signing up for the activities and students voicing their frustrations to the teachers. A survey conducted within the school revealed that the majority of students ranked it very important to become part of the wider community. This can be explained by the fact that this group of students chose to leave their country to study English for a period of time while living, studying and sometimes working at the same time.

However, these students may have very limited English proficiency skills resulting in difficulty in finding opportunities to engage and interact with their new communities. It is therefore very important for the schools, often the first point of contact for students, to provide opportunities for them to engage within the community from the moment of arrival.

It is vital for students to become part of the community within which they live in order to find jobs, meet locals, contribute to the community and enjoy the same quality of life. If they are left struggling in their new environment, this will no doubt affect the others around them. Leaving the students to struggle by themselves would put pressure on the wider community too, resulting in the inverse outcome. Supporting the students means supporting the wider community too.

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Further reading:

Q&A With a 35-Year ESL Industry Teaching Veteran

Ever had Doubts About Teaching English as a Second Language? This Will Convince you to Follow Your Dreams!

Is Doing a TESOL/TEFL Certificate Really That Easy?

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